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Political Technologists: Gleb Pavlovsky

Gleb Pavlovsky, head of the Foundation for Effective Politics. Photo: Konstantin Zavrazhin

Gleb Pavlovsky, Russia's best-known political technologist and consultant, is the head of the pro-government Foundation for Effective Politics. He is a constant presence in the media. The FEP has launched several popular websites including,,, Ukraina.Ru, Time Magazine, discussing Pavlovsky's role in the 1999-2000 election campaigns, crowned him "Russia's Dick Morris" and the "new anti-hero of Russian politics":

 "Gleb Pavlovsky, an owlish political consultant with a taste for casual clothes and an abiding reputation for dirty tricks, is being hailed as a genius by the winners and a cynical villain by the losers … it is a sign of the times that Putin's election is not credited to a business tycoon or Kremlin staff member but to a professional political organizer--a former dissident and political exile who scorns the 'intellectual poverty' of the Gorbachev years and is bullish on the Internet. His consulting firm, the Fund for Effective Politics, avoids the limelight but enjoys a reputation for achieving the impossible."

"The main weapon employed by Pavlovsky was the Internet. Only a million or so Russians have access to the Web, he notes, but they are the elite--in universities, government offices, security services and the mass media. This makes the Net a powerful yet dangerous tool, Pavlovsky remarked recently. Through it, he explains, black propaganda can easily be 'laundered' into 'white' press reports."[16]

A 2006 article on "Democracy's Doubles" by Ivan Krastev further probes Pavlosky's role:

"Russia's political system can best be grasped by looking at the country's 'political technologists', the Kremlin's infamous grand masters of manipulation. Just as the Soviet regime could not be properly understood without reference to communist ideology, managed democracy today cannot be grasped without reference to the political technologists and their view of democracy and politics …

In a Kremlin world dominated by mediocre apparatchiks, KGB officers, and ruthless oligarchs, the political technologists might look like people from another planet. They come from the milieu of the intelligentsia and the world of alternative culture. Gleb Pavlovsky is a policy intellectual and a former dissident who was persecuted in Soviet times for his 'reformist delusions'. … Pavlovsky worked with George Soros and his Open Society Institute in the early 1990s and briefly acted as editor of a Russian version of the Journal of Democracy. … They were Russia's liberals. In the early 1990s, they proclaimed their belief in free and fair elections, limited government, democratic pluralism, and independent media. Today, however, they have all become 'political technologists'.

"The Russian political technologist resembles a Western political consultant in the way that the electric chair resembles an armchair. Political consultants in the West (however low one's opinion of them) work with independent media, and their trade is influencing these media. Political technologists are experts in manipulating dependent media. Political consultants in the West are experts at winning votes for their candidates; political technologists are also specialists in winning votes, but they take matters one step further

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